June 6, 2023

Edmund Khoo, DDS, is board-certified in orthodontics and is a Diplomate of the American Board of Orthodontics.
Dry mouth occurs when the body doesn't produce enough saliva, which causes a parched and uncomfortable feeling in the mouth. It is especially common in older adults, whose bodies produce less saliva.
Continuous dry mouth can be a sign of an underlying health concern, and untreated dry mouth can lead to faster tooth decay, bad breath, infections, and mouth sores. Other complications of dry mouth include difficulty speaking and swallowing, sore throat, loss of taste, and sensations like tingling or burning in the mouth.
This article covers the symptoms, types, and causes of dry mouth, diagnosis and treatment of dry mouth, and when to get help for dry mouth.
Symptoms of dry mouth can include:
Other parts of the body can also be affected by dry mouth. Symptoms of dry mouth throughout the body include:
Common reasons for dry mouth include:
Other conditions that can cause dry mouth include:
There are many medications that cause dry mouth, including:
Some ways to treat dry mouth include:
In extreme cases, like if salivary glands are blocked by stones, surgery might be required.
Drinking eight to 12 8-ounce glasses of water a day can help prevent dry mouth. Unsweetened fluids and avoiding caffeine from coffee, tea, or sodas can also help. Other preventive measures against dry mouth include:

Dry mouth can be a sign of serious illnesses, like diabetes, HIV, or Sjögren's syndrome. Dry mouth might also mean that a medication for a chronic illness might not be the right one for you.
Other complications of dry mouth include:
Diagnosing dry mouth usually includes an examination of the mouth. Other methods of diagnosis include:
You should see a healthcare provider for dry mouth if:
Dry mouth happens when the salivary glands do not produce enough saliva, leading to a parched, dry feeling in the mouth. Dry mouth is most commonly caused by dehydration, aging, certain types of medication (including those for blood pressure, depression, and allergies), and Sjögren's syndrome, a disease that affects the salivary glands and eyes.
Treating dry mouth can include modifying medications under doctor supervision, artificial saliva medication, saliva-producing products like mouthwash or gel, and medications to treat infections that cause dry mouth. Treating underlying conditions can also help with dry mouth.
Having a dry mouth can be uncomfortable, and it may also be linked to larger concerns. Long-term dry mouth could indicate undiagnosed conditions or issues with medication, and it can also cause tooth decay and gum disease.
The good news is that there are plenty of ways to address dry mouth and to relieve its discomfort, whether that's through home remedies or getting checked by a healthcare provider.
In addition to being dehydrated, dry mouth can also be a side effect of many medications and a sign of an underlying illness. Aging is also a common factor of dry mouth, since your body produces less saliva as you age.
Treating dry mouth can include changing medications if you are on any under a healthcare provider's supervision. Drinking more fluids, chewing sugar-free gum, and avoiding caffeine, alcohol, tobacco, and sugar may help. Testing for other health issues like diabetes or Sjögren's syndrome could also help.
Untreated dry mouth can increase tooth decay and gum disease while causing bad breath. It can also lead to difficulty swallowing or chewing, while also increasing the chance of yeast infections in the mouth called thrush. If dry mouth is a symptom of an undiagnosed illness, such as diabetes, it could become dangerous if left unexamined.
National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research. Dry mouth.
National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research. Dry mouth & older adults.
NHSinform. Dry mouth.
Better Health Channel. Dry mouth.
Gupta S, Nayak MT, Sunitha J, Dawar G, Sinha N, Rallan NS. Correlation of salivary glucose level with blood glucose level in diabetes mellitus. J Oral Maxillofac Pathol. 2017;21(3):334-339. doi:10.4103/jomfp.JOMFP_222_15
Kaae JK, Stenfeldt L, Eriksen JG. Xerostomia after radiotherapy for oral and oropharyngeal cancer: increasing salivary flow with tasteless sugar-free chewing gumFront Oncol. doi:10.3389/fonc.2016.00111
Penn Medicine. Salivary gland stone.
US Department of Health and Human Services. Dry mouth questions and answers.
Sjogren's Foundation. Diagnosis.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Diabetes tests.
By Neha Kashyap
Neha is a New York-based health journalist who has written for WebMD, ADDitude, HuffPost Life, and dailyRx News. Neha enjoys writing about mental health, elder care, innovative health care technologies, paying for health care, and simple measures that we all can take to work toward better health.

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